3DS's Region Lock Cracked - Works on Latest Firmware, no Flashcard Required

3DS's Region Lock Cracked - Works on Latest Firmware, no Flashcard Required

Hackers do what Nintendon't.

Nintendo's region locking policy has been a point of contention among fans for a very long time. Indeed, one of the most baffling decisions the company made was to actually take a step backwards, as the original DS was region free, but the 3DS was region locked. But now, hackers have done what Nintendon't, and have blown the region lock of the handheld wide open, providing an exploit that both works with the latest firmware update, and doesn't require the use of a flashcart, or any permanent console modification.

The exploit is known as "regionthree", and only requires the use of an SD card. It allows you to load games from other regions and runs them in your 3DS's native language if possible. It also allows you to bypass the mandatory firmware updates that are included in some games, meaning that if you never update your firmware, there will be no way for Nintendo to patch the exploit out, and you'll still be able to play all the latest games.

What it doesn't do is allow you to play homebrew, or pirated software. Regionthree only works with legitimate physical games from other regions. It also only works with the 3DS, 3DS XL and 2DS - it doesn't work with the NEW 3DS and NEW 3DS XL. The other caveat is that you need to be connected to the internet every time you want to load up a game from a different region.

If you are interested in trying it out for yourself, here are the instructions, but be warned that while this does not physically modify the console in any way, or offer any permanent changes to its software, it may still count as an illegal software modification in some regions, and may be against Nintendo's Terms of Service. There's also no guarantee that Nintendo won't find a way to simply brick all consoles running the exploit in the future. Please do so at your own risk.

We would like to remind you that The Escapist does not approve of software piracy in any shape or form.

This kind of incredibly simple and easy-to-use hack demonstrates that Nintendo pretty much just has to "flip a switch" to allow region free gaming on its 3DS. In this day and age, where every one of Nintendo's competitors offers region free gaming, they really should get with the program and just break the lock officially. It's sad that people who legitimately want to play legally acquired games from other regions have to jump through all these hoops.

We've reached out to Nintendo for comment on whether or not this exploit will make it reconsider it's region locking stance.

Source: NeoGAF

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Should the Escapist really be reporting on this? Should the Escapist really be sending people the link to actually do it themselves? I am almost certain this violates some of their own rules.

OT: It's nice that some people can now play any version of any game they want, but Nintendo is obviously going to Crack down hard on this. Heck, they might even get tougher on Region locking now because of these hackers. They did it to the DS, I can't imagine them not doing it on the 3DS/N3DS/2DS.

I seriously doubt Nintendo is going to get back to you on that one.

Mr.Mattress:
Should the Escapist really be reporting on this? Should the Escapist really be sending people the link to actually do it themselves? I am almost certain this violates some of their own rules.

There's a number of places where this has been determined by court case to be explicitly legal, so they're probably fine.

Mr.Mattress:
Should the Escapist really be reporting on this? Should the Escapist really be sending people the link to actually do it themselves? I am almost certain this violates some of their own rules.

OT: It's nice that some people can now play any version of any game they want, but Nintendo is obviously going to Crack down hard on this. Heck, they might even get tougher on Region locking now because of these hackers. They did it to the DS, I can't imagine them not doing it on the 3DS/N3DS/2DS.

Thanks for your concern. This is something i actually weighed up myself when writing this article. In the end, i felt that this news was too important to simply ignore. Yes, i did report on it, and yes, i did link to how people can do it themselves, but i did explicitly state that users do it at their own risk as it may be illegal in some regions.

As JarinArenos has pointed out, yes, there are countries in the world where such practices have been determined to be legal. (for example, in the EU: http://www.bit-tech.net/news/gaming/2014/01/24/eu-court-rules-console-modding-can-be-legal/1)

Well, I might get in trouble if I said I was going to do this with my 3DS XL. So I won't say I will do this. But I will imply heavily that this is something good.

It would certainly let me play that Japanese copy of Bravely Default I picked up back in Japan a few years back. One that I obtained legally through mutually agreed trade of goods for tender.

Region locking is why I don't have a Wii U, I have a 3DS XL but only one game for it currently, I should get more though.

Steven Bogos:

Mr.Mattress:
Should the Escapist really be reporting on this? Should the Escapist really be sending people the link to actually do it themselves? I am almost certain this violates some of their own rules.

OT: It's nice that some people can now play any version of any game they want, but Nintendo is obviously going to Crack down hard on this. Heck, they might even get tougher on Region locking now because of these hackers. They did it to the DS, I can't imagine them not doing it on the 3DS/N3DS/2DS.

Thanks for your concern. This is something i actually weighed up myself when writing this article. In the end, i felt that this news was too important to simply ignore. Yes, i did report on it, and yes, i did link to how people can do it themselves, but i did explicitly state that users do it at their own risk as it may be illegal in some regions.

As JarinArenos has pointed out, yes, there are countries in the world where such practices have been determined to be legal. (for example, in the EU: http://www.bit-tech.net/news/gaming/2014/01/24/eu-court-rules-console-modding-can-be-legal/1)

When I said 'This might Violate some of their own rules', I wasn't actually thinking of any Countries Judicial Branch or Legislature. I was referring to The Escapists rules. I know that talking about Piracy or things/places that can allow for Piracy is a no-no here, and when something like a Handheld console is hacked to the point that the Region locking no longer works, that almost always leads to an increase in piracy (At least when Nintendo is concerned, a la the Region-lockless DS).

I appreciate that you warned people about doing this, I just worry that this could cause an increase in Piracy of 3DS Games, and that you could get in trouble with the Escapist for reporting this, not any authority figure that could put you in jail.

I expect this exploit to be viable for all of a month before Nintendo catches wind of it and proceeds to patch it out. Thing is region locking would bug me more if most of the games that are Japan-exclusive weren't, y'know, crap.

Redlin5:
I seriously doubt Nintendo is going to get back to you on that one.

You and me both mate...

Unless it's a permanent thing that Nintendo can't patch out, then exploits like this are pretty useless. No one in their right mind would buy up a library of games from other regions if there was even the slightest chance that they would be rendered unplayable by some future update. While I acknowledge that this exploit can bypass mandatory firmware upgrades, it doesn't preclude the possibility that Nintendo may start including code that requires a newer firmware in the game to function properly.

Basically, the only way to solve this problem is to convince Nintendo to stop doing it. Since gamers already asked them to and they just flat out refused without even a two-way discussion, I think the ship's sailed on Region-Free Nintendo games.

Good thing that reminder is there I have to say as I'd keep forgetting otherwise.
Another one of these? Whatever no one who apparently handles these things ever gets back to me to explain the specifics which has left me as you can imagine somewhat irritated on these matters.
I understand the reasons and I would normally put some Shane O'Mac theme lyrics here... but I can't even do that at this point.

Anyway region locking is terrible though I can understand the business sense it makes. This'd get me some Atlus games quicker but I'm never without something to play, and you know... not a child so the wait doesn't bother me.

just because people seem to be reading over this:

What it does't do is allow you to play homebrew, or pirated software. Regionthree only works with legitimate physical games from other regions.

this is allowing you to play (and only) play legit bought games, so I have no idea why you could be against the idea of it, just because you bought a game from a different country (or if you were there for some reason) doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to play it . fuck region locking, it benefits almost no one while majorly hampering customers.

gmaverick019:
fuck region locking, it benefits almost no one while majorly hampering customers.

Ah but friend, don't you know? Unless people who defend region locking actually get affected by it, they won't give two shits. :3

I mean obviously the reason people want region-free games is simply for Japan-exclusives ones. Clearly PAL regions and NTSC regions get all other games except the ones exclusive to Japan; there have surely never been times that two regions got a game and one got the shaft entirely. And besides, apparently most "Japan-exclusive" games suck because it's not like that's a subjective opinion or anything. No, it's clearly an undisputed fact! /sarcasm

OT: I've said it before, and I'll say it again: fuck region-locking. All it does is screw over people who never get certain games in regions at all. Hell, look at the SNES games list that was released in NTSC regions when compared to PAL regions, it damn near non-existent for quite a few games that often make the "best SNES games ever" lists. Really, if you get yourself a legitimate, physical copy of a game you should be allowed to play it on your system. Not to mention that there are military personal as well as regular citizens who frequently move to new countries and subsequently new regions who now can't play any new games they might have purchased over there. If region-locking really was such a horrible thing for profits, then why have Sony, Microsoft, and most PC gaming removed region locking then? It's archaic, out-dated, and just screws people over in the end.

Well too late for me, I bought a Japanese 3DS over a year or so ago precisely because I wanted to play games like Inazuma Eleven and Super Robot Wars. I'm sad it took this long for someone to crack the region lock.

JarinArenos:

Mr.Mattress:
Should the Escapist really be reporting on this? Should the Escapist really be sending people the link to actually do it themselves? I am almost certain this violates some of their own rules.

There's a number of places where this has been determined by court case to be explicitly legal, so they're probably fine.

Good, now apply it to Sony and we'll be set.

FalloutJack:

Good, now apply it to Sony and we'll be set.

You referring to region-locking, because if so the only thing still region locked on their systems are digital games, which I believe is also the same for Microsoft still. At least they don't still lock physical games anymore, otherwise the Vita would've died already. XD

I've yet to be interested in importing a game, but this is neat. The fact that piracy is still denied in this crack might tell Nintendo that there are people out there who want to (or have no choice but to) legitimately buy games with a different region code than their 3DS. I just think they were burned by the R4 cart and are acting like a little kid who got hurt by something and don't ever want to go in the same room as it again. This also might freak them out, since an exploit in their system has been pointed out. Pirates might flock to it, if they copy the exploit. (And I hope Ninty's response isn't to start making games New 3DS (That name still sucks.) exclusive just for that reason.)

But, Big N might still brush this off as an unauthorized modification of their hardware, instead of addressing the concerns many have had since they first heard of the 3DS's region lock iron curtain. Nintendo has also been ignoring the preorder issues with much of their rarer items, because they're still making money, even if someone else is buying up the stock to resell it at ludicrous markups. They still can afford to be stuborn (even after things like loosing publishers by sticking with cartridges for the N64).

Although, maybe they could try to print region free versions of games that probably have no chance of being localized elsewhere and raise the price on them to satisfy their fears of people who import just to get things cheaper. That's not the best case scenario for importers already paying far more per game than domestic prices, but at least it isn't playing cat and mouse with the firmware PSP-style.

Neronium:

FalloutJack:

Good, now apply it to Sony and we'll be set.

You referring to region-locking, because if so the only thing still region locked on their systems are digital games, which I believe is also the same for Microsoft still. At least they don't still lock physical games anymore, otherwise the Vita would've died already. XD

Digital games aren't region locked on Sony Consoles. You can still go into the US or Japanese store from EU, buy a game from it that wasn't released in Europe and play it on your EU account with zero issues. Only thing you need to use is your US/JP account to access the store.

People have been playing RE 1 HD for last few weeks on PS3 by downloading it from Japanese store. :)

LaochEire:

Digital games aren't region locked on Sony Consoles. You can still go into the US or Japanese store from EU, buy a game from it that wasn't released in Europe and play it on your EU account with zero issues. Only thing you need to use is your US/JP account to access the store.

People have been playing RE 1 HD for last few weeks on PS3 by downloading it from Japanese store. :)

Problem with it when it comes to the Vita though is that you can only have one account per memory card, and Vita cards are still quite expensive. My friend has 2 Vita memory cards, one with his regular account, and the other with his Japanese account. Plus, it sort of is region locking, because you can't access the other stores unless you have an account in those regions.

Neronium:

LaochEire:

Digital games aren't region locked on Sony Consoles. You can still go into the US or Japanese store from EU, buy a game from it that wasn't released in Europe and play it on your EU account with zero issues. Only thing you need to use is your US/JP account to access the store.

People have been playing RE 1 HD for last few weeks on PS3 by downloading it from Japanese store. :)

Problem with it when it comes to the Vita though is that you can only have one account per memory card, and Vita cards are still quite expensive. My friend has 2 Vita memory cards, one with his regular account, and the other with his Japanese account. Plus, it sort of is region locking, because you can't access the other stores unless you have an account in those regions.

Yes, the Vita thing annoys me too. I can't access DLC for my Japanese Vita game because I'll have to wipe my memory to do so.

I can't see how the store thing is region locking though. The stores are not region locked. They can be accessed from anywhere in the world on any PS3/PS4. The account creation takes 5mins and is then there forever. Also, the stuff you buy and download can be played by the console by other accounts not from the region. Right now I can buy and use Resident Evil HD by getting it from Japanese store. all while being on the complete opposite side of the world.

Region locked stores would imply I couldn't access the store without having an IP address from that country. I do not see it as region locking at all to be honest.

I found softmodding my Wii to remove the region lock immensely useful back in the pre-Obama days of the super-weak US dollar, but today?

Living in Sweden, the cheapest and easiest option for games has for years been importing from the UK, which means the region restrictions don't bother me. In the present, it's actually often better to not import at all, due to changes to Amazon's policies.

Maybe if I really want a Japanese 3DS game at some point in the future, I'd consider giving this a try, but it seems unlikely at this point.

Rune Factory 4 in EU! Just ordered a copy one week shipping can't wait.

Oh I am so tempted to do this... but I don't want to run the risk of Nintendo finding a way to brick my 3DS XL. It would certainly help if there was ever another Shin Megami Tensei IV situation, where it doesn't come out for over a year after the US release in PAL regions. Then I could just import the game from there easy peasy.

Steven Bogos:
3DS's Region Lock Cracked - Works on Latest Firmware, no Flashcard Required

Hackers do what Nintendon't.
There's also no guarantee that Nintendo won't find a way to simply brick all consoles running the exploit in the future. Please do so at your own risk.

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This right here is why I hate patches, and will do all I can to not use them. Its my product, ill do WHATEVER I want with it.

Goddamnit.

Mr.Mattress:
I appreciate that you warned people about doing this, I just worry that this could cause an increase in Piracy of 3DS Games, and that you could get in trouble with the Escapist for reporting this, not any authority figure that could put you in jail.

How, it doesn't crack anything except the region lock. Unless you have a pirate copy of the game that would play perfectly fine in a foreign version of the console (hint: you don't), this does you no good.

Region locking is bad. It makes me angry at Nintendo. I know it's been said a lot already on this thread, but I want the negative sentiments to pile on. Maybe someone in that company might see this one day.

144:
Region locking is bad. It makes me angry at Nintendo. I know it's been said a lot already on this thread, but I want the negative sentiments to pile on. Maybe someone in that company might see this one day.

That's kind of why i make it a point to report on stuff like this

Good article, glad to know that someones doing this. I'm a bit locked out with owning my Japanese 3DS and being too stubborn to buy another one just to play the same games... It would be nice if I could get the English version of games I want to play in English. RPG's for instance no matter how good your Japanese or any language might be, you miss little things here or there if it's not in your native tongue.

There's also no guarantee that Nintendo won't find a way to simply brick all consoles running the exploit in the future.

i almost want them to do it so the uproar would be large enough to finally get nintendo sued for all its malpractice.

Mr.Mattress:
Should the Escapist really be reporting on this? Should the Escapist really be sending people the link to actually do it themselves? I am almost certain this violates some of their own rules.

Yes, yes, and no. There is absolutely nothing illegal about using this program. you can use any software you want on your hardware legally as long as you obtained said software legally and that it is not being used to commit crimes. since modifying your own software is not a crime, it is not.

and nintendos TOS can go straight to shitter, its not worth anything more than digital toilet paper.

Mr.Mattress:

OT: It's nice that some people can now play any version of any game they want, but Nintendo is obviously going to Crack down hard on this. Heck, they might even get tougher on Region locking now because of these hackers. They did it to the DS, I can't imagine them not doing it on the 3DS/N3DS/2DS.

the topic states: works with the 3DS, 3DS XL and 2DS.

And if nintendo wants to get themselves into a corner they are welcome to try.

Mr.Mattress:

When I said 'This might Violate some of their own rules', I wasn't actually thinking of any Countries Judicial Branch or Legislature. I was referring to The Escapists rules. I know that talking about Piracy or things/places that can allow for Piracy is a no-no here, and when something like a Handheld console is hacked to the point that the Region locking no longer works, that almost always leads to an increase in piracy (At least when Nintendo is concerned, a la the Region-lockless DS).

Once again, you have not read the article. the article state that this does NOT allow pirated or home-brew software to run. It is also NOT piracy to use region lock breaking.

Region locking actually never affected me besides the short time where RF4 was canned for Europe. But later on it was sold through the e-shop so I ended up playing it. But I don't like the idea of region locking. While in theory it could be actually beneficial to the customer (poor regions would have a lower price point while preventing other from abusing it), it could only work if pretty much every game was released in absolutely every region and we all know that will never happen. So in reality, it does neither help with the price nor do all regions get all games. It's only a big negative rather than having some upsides.

Time to pick up and learn Japanese... for the 110th time. Hopefully I won't just drop it for no reason like all the times before.

dibdab:
Rune Factory 4 in EU! Just ordered a copy one week shipping can't wait.

You do know that RF4 is already being sold in EU for a while now? Just go to the E-Shop.

 

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